First Smoke did not go great, advice needed.

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by colorado s14, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. colorado s14

    colorado s14 Newbie

    First of all thank you for the great resource you have provided, I have done tons of searching and learned alot from others experience.  I recieved a Char-Broil offset smoker as a wedding gift and have been pumped to get going.  I am a big time tinkerer (cars, guns, bikes, anything that is mechanical) so of course I found the countless threads on the mods for this smoker and went to work.  I made a charcoal basket out of expanded steel and elevated it in the fire box using some broken bricks. I extended the chimney to grate level, made a heat shield, added two rails and rested one of those baking trays with the slots so dripping fall through to the bottom pan on the rails in the smoke box to allow smoke to rise evenly across the box. Installed two thermometers and had a probe on the grate in the middle of the meat.

    Night before I started a chimney starters worth of briquettes and threw it in to season a bit.  The day of my first smoke I got it fired up again first using Kingsford Competition briquettes and then later added some Frontier Lump Charcoal I had pre-heated in the chimney. 

    Problem was no matter what I tried I could not get the smoker to go over 175, I kept adding pre-heated charcoal and the firebox was almost 3/4 full at one point., I had the chimney open all the way and the firebox vent in every possible position at some point trying all possible options.  I used crumpled foil to seal the box a bit better and still low temps.  Ultimately I had to just use it to smoke and then put the meat in the oven at 250 to cook, so, what did I do wrong and how do I make my next smoke a success?


    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    First of all welcome to SMF. I don't have your smoker, but I'm sure someone who does will be along shortly. The first thing to check is the temp gauge. If you are going by the factory gauge it is probably wrong. You need a good temp probe that you can sit on the grate to measure the temp inside. If you have one then most of the time when you can't get the temp up, it is either not enough air flow or to much heat escaping. The other thing could be the weather. If it is windy & blowing on the smoker this will keep the temps down too. 
  3. colorado s14

    colorado s14 Newbie

    Thanks AL, I look forward to hearing what others have to say as well.  To some of your points though, I was pretty much just going by what the temp probe said, I had tried to use the foil to seal some of the bigger gaps, and the wind was not really blowing at all.
  4. colorado s14

    colorado s14 Newbie

    Any other input on this, I went in and shortened my heat deflector but still could not get over 250* on the firebox side of the smoke chamber.  I know that 250 will get me done but most seem to be able to get over 300 pretty easy.
  5. melleram

    melleram Smoke Blower

    Close the chimney.  I run my chimney 90% closed.  Opening more than that lets heat out of the cooking chamber while really doing nothing to help the fire.  I run my intake vent at about 1/4 open thats all. 

    Also do not open the cooking chamber lid, every time it is opened it lets out a ton of heat and takes a long time to recover.  Same goes for the firebox, keep it closed as much as possible. 

    I use the minion method, basket full of unlit lump and briquetts mix, then dump a full chimney of lit briquets on mounded on top.  I got a solid 5 hour burn out of this Saturday.  It takes at least 30 min (maybe closer to an hour) to get temps up in the smoker.
  6. oddball

    oddball Smoke Blower

    No need to preheat the charcoal.  After you have the initial charcoal lit, simply add more directly as needed.  I rake the hot coals to the smoker side, then add the fresh charcoal to the other side and back across to the lit side.  The "fire" will spread through the charcoal.

    Aside from that, it's  a matter of experimenting with the venting.   Leakage should be a non factor unless you are trying to hit really high temps or trying to compensate for the weather (windy, rain, cold).
  7. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome to the forum

    Did you do a smoke on this smoker before you made all the mods?

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome Colorado!!!

    Sorry I can't help with your question---I'm used to an easy Watt burner.

    You already got some help, and I'm sure will get plenty more.

  9. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    There was a recent post here with a great mod to that grill. I would not suggest keeping the exhaust closed or even part closed that will create creosote. JMHO
  10. Whats up Colorado, I am in Highlands Ranch.  Damn burbs.  At least I have plenty of neighbors to eat my grub.

    Could be a couple of things keeping your temps down, but I think you should take a look at the smoketstack drop you put in.  If it is too low you wont get good flow from the firebox through the chamber, and more heat will rollout the fiebox than the stack.  Also, depending on what you are doing with those tuner plates they could be jacking your temps too, I used a water pan for a brisket I did last week and it killed my temps, made me stress for the whole smoke.  I am not ruling out water pans, but know that the water pan was the culprit.  Stress is the complete opposite of what you are supposed to be doing when you are smoking.

    I have the duo version of your smoker, and have modded the bejeezus out of it.  I think I have it about as good as it's going to get unless I break out my welder.  Theres a couple of threads around here where I put all the mods in one place, and if you search my user name, you will probably find it.

    Anyways, my job carries me all over the metro area throughout the day, If you would like me to take a look I will happily stop by.
  11. azron

    azron Fire Starter

    I would use bolts with nuts on them to support your basket instead of the bricks, also buy two BBQ temputure gauges from Lowes or Home depot and put them at grate level thru the lid.  You will get a better idea of the smoke chambers temps side to side.  All i did with mine was the gauges, stack mod and flipped my charcoal grate and a little tin foil over the gap between the sfb and the main chamber.  Keep us updated with your progress.
  12. Been thinking a lil about your situation.  Did your charcoal get wet with all the rain we have been having?  AZRon is right, you should set that basket on some bolts nutted through the box, not sit it on bricks.  I am rolling along at 220 right now on a sunny sunday afternoon.  Also, when you light up your chimmney, how long do you leave it in the chimney before you dump it.  It takes about 20-25 minutes up in here in this altitude, that thing should be almost complete full of hot glowing coals.

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